diamond geezer

 Wednesday, February 13, 2019

What is this blog all about?

Obviously it's about me going on about things that interest me, that's a given. But what is it that interests me? (or at least, what is it that interests me enough to tell you all about it?)

I like that the blog's not easily definable. I like that when you click through to read it each day you generally have no idea quite what's coming next. But you do roughly know what you're going to get, most of the time, even if you don't know precisely what the next offering's going to be.

So I've trawled back through the last 100 days on the blog, that's all the way back to 5th November 2018, to see what that tells me about what this is all about.

Firstly, the blog's very much about London. 71 out of the last 100 days have featured a post specifically about something in the capital. That perhaps isn't surprising because it's where I live, and London is big, but it does confirm that I write a lot that's location-specific. Only 5 days focused on a particular place outside London, mostly not very far out of London, but then it is winter and I've not been travelling very far afield of late. And that leaves roughly a quarter of my posts not specifically tied down to any particular location. You get more geography and less opinionated navel-gazing on this blog.

There is probably one thing you think this blog is often about, and that's transport. And yes, there is a lot of that. By my calculations 45 of the last 100 days have focused on something transportational, although my definition of transport is quite broad and would include yesterday's post about a footbridge, dissecting something TfL has implemented or writing about a walking app. Breaking down those 45 days by mode, ten of them focused on buses, nine on the tube and another eight on different types of rail transport (including Crossrail). Roads, canals, ferries and walking managed about three each, and maps came up a fair few times. So yes, it appears I blog about transport just under half the time, but without over-focusing on one particular type.

The other thing this blog is about is place. Of the 55 days I wasn't going on about transport, 35 featured a post about a particular location, or locations, explored in some detail. About a quarter of those were touristy places to visit, like stately homes, museums or art galleries, but the rest were mainly general neighbourhoods, administrative areas or landscape features. I do like picking a place and telling you about it, particularly if it's a bit off the beaten track, and am particularly keen on going somewhere simply because it's there.

If you're keeping tally, that means only about 20% of the posts on this blog aren't about transport or place. I enjoy recounting anecdotes from my daily experience. I have a penchant for trawling back through my diary. I like the challenge of trying to explain something scientific. I revel in setting you a quiz or puzzle. If I want to talk about jigsaws or the pop charts I will. I don't do politics very often (only 2 of the last 100 posts, in case you thought it was more). But generally the blog's not about me, it's about the world around me.

As for tone of voice, the blog's not as nitpicky or downbeat as you might think it is. About a quarter of the last 100 posts had an element of "well this isn't very good is it?" within them, but only in about ten cases was it the main focus of the piece. Generally I try to be neutral, or positive, or simply to reflect what I see without laying the value judgements on thick. I could be less sanctimonious sometimes, especially when I'm no expert, but when something isn't right it's only fair to call it out.

Overall, if there's one thing I suspect truly defines this blog, it's that I actually visit the places that I write about. A lot of the media publish stories based on press releases they've been sent, using the attached images or nabbing them off Google, whereas I invariably get off my backside and go there myself. Partly that's because I want my own photos, but mainly it's because I can collect background detail and additional observations I'd never get unless I went in person. Also, I have the time. I'm not up against a deadline, or trapped in an office, so if it takes an hour and a half to get somewhere and another three hours to wander around, so be it.

Totting up my last 100 blogging days, as many as 66 of them involved me writing about somewhere I'd visited. That's two-thirds of posts based on first-hand evidence, two-thirds requiring a journey of some kind. In fact 21 of those 66 were specifically about a journey, be that a ride on a bus, a trip down a street or a walk following a dead canal. I do enjoy the narrative possibilities that a journey of some kind provides, hence you've been reading about journeys around 20% of the time.

One final thing you've probably noticed is that several of my posts are about multiple locations. Here are four places three miles from the centre of London, this is what's happening at ten different Crossrail stations, that kind of thing. I do like to compare place X with place Y, or tick off as many examples of type Z as I can, which generally makes for a meatier post. It also sets me a challenge I call blogger orienteering, which is how to visit all the places on my list as efficiently as possible. Once I've identified ten former Woolworths, or 18 art galleries, or five pre-Worboys road signs, what fun it is to plan the route. About 20% of my last 100 days' posts have followed this kind of pattern. It keeps me busy.

So I think I have an answer to what this blog's all about. It's about all sorts of things, but especially places and London and travelling around.

diamond geezer is my notes from an ongoing London-based geography field trip.


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